Global Migration, Lopsided World

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

This is the text-only from a photo spread in Revolution. Get a copy of this issue of the newspaper to see the powerful images in this article.

In a poor third world country: A family kicked off their land in the countryside ends up in the city's shantytown with no electricity, no running water, no sanitation. The mother works in a sweatshop owned by a foreign company, subjected to slave-like conditions and sexual abuse. Unable to find a job, unable to feed his family, the father hands his 14-year-old daughter to a man who promises to find her a "good job." In fact, the man is part of the international sex trade. The 10-year-old son, instead of going to school, ends up working in a factory making clothes for people in faraway countries to wear.

With no hope and no future, the father takes his family's life savings and gives it to a human smuggler who will get him into the United States or France or Germany. He finds himself in a run-down, poor neighborhood in Los Angeles, Paris, London, or New York. Hounded by the immigration authorities, he's cheated, misused, and ruthlessly exploited. Picking apples or working in a low-wage factory, living on the edge in a dilapidated apartment with five other immigrants, he sends most of his paycheck back home. He hopes someday he will see his family again.

This is life and reality for millions of immigrants, trying to survive, looking for some kind of future. If you make it past the border guards, if you're not attacked by racist vigilantes, or stopped, beaten, and jailed by the police... if you don't suffocate in a cargo container or die in the desert from dehydration... then you can live and work in the shadows, facing constant harassment and repression.


In poor countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, hundreds of millions, peasants kicked off their land and workers desperately unemployed, are forced to leave their country in search of work.

In the year 2000, 850,000 people legally immigrated to the United States, more than half from Asia or Mexico. This doesn't include illegal immigration. It is estimated there are 11 million undocumented workers in the U.S.


The workings of imperialism force people to migrate: The poor countries of the world are dominated and oppressed by a handful of rich imperialist countries. Multinational corporations pump billions of dollars into poor countries, transforming and controlling the whole way food is grown, cities are built, factories are run, and governments rule. Imperialist countries like the U.S.grow strong, powerful, and wealthy on the backs of oppressed nations. Millions are displaced by wars of imperialist aggression.

As a result, hundreds of millions of people in poor countries around the world live in dire poverty without enough food, without safe drinking water, basic sanitation, adequate housing and healthcare. Every year, worsening economic conditions compel millions to migrate in search of jobs. It is estimated that nearly 1 out of 6 people in this world, more than one billion people, are crossing national borders as migrant workers. Half of the world's people still make their living farming the land, but hundreds of millions are being kicked off their land, forced to move to cities to try and eke out a living in slums and growing shantytowns.


Millions of lives have been ruined by "fair trade" agreements and policies by international finance organizations--which are designed to bring more profit to the capitalist corporations. The World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), controlled by the U.S.and other rich countries, impose strict requirements on poor countries in exchange for badly needed loans. They demand cuts to social services, higher food prices, currency devaluations, and measures to boost export production and imports--leading to increased poverty and unemployment. The WTO Agreement on Agriculture and NAFTA have forced poor countries to open up to more agricultural imports, paving the way for large agribusinesses to buy up land, and the ruin of small family farmers who can't compete with cheap imports.

In India a devastated farmer commits suicide by eating pesticides to end his life. Another sells his kidney to feed his family.


José Antonio Villaseñor Leon, living in a town outside of Mexico City, had a hard time making ends meet and supporting his 5-year-old son, Marco Antonio. He sold his taxi and other possessions to pay smugglers for the trip across the border. On May 14, 2003, Jose and his son Marco were among 18 people who were found suffocated to death in an abandoned tractor-trailer truck in Victoria, Texas. Four were from Central America, one was from the Dominican Republic, and 13 were from Mexico. They were among dozens of people packed into the locked trailer headed for Houston.


Endless and vicious anti-immigrant laws passed by the U.S. government which criminalize and demonize undocumented immigrants have further emboldened and whipped up fascist anti-immigrant movements.

On September 30, 2005, deep in the lynching belt in Tifton, Georgia: Six Mexican immigrant men were killed. Beaten with an aluminum bat and shot. One immigrant woman was raped. Several others were critically injured. There had recently been 20 other similar incidents in this area.

20-year-old Guillermo Martínez lived just over the border from San Diego. His family says he was trying to get to Fresno, California to take a job picking fruit. On December 30, 2005, just after dark, the border patrol shot him dead. Human rights advocates report that at least four other immigrants had died in the last 15 months in run-ins with Border Patrol agents. One man fatally shot, three others drowned running away.


Where there is oppression is resistance: On July 1, 2005, a huge outpouring of 40,000 people, primarily immigrant Mexicanos, hit the streets in Chicago to oppose the anti-immigrant vigilante group, the Minutemen, and the government’s immigration policies. In May of 2001, in the town of Oldham (190 miles northwest of London), hundreds of immigrant youth from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, rebelled against police brutality and anti-immigrant attacks from the racist National Front and the rightwing British National Party. They took to the streets for three nights, throwing bricks, garbage cans, and firebombs at the police. After 9/11, protests were organized in cities throughout the U.S. against the whole way the government targeted and viciously persecuted Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrants. In November 2005, in the working class suburb of Paris, Clichy-sous-Bois, after two teenagers fleeing from the police were burned to death on an electrified barbed wire fence, thousands of working class youth, largely children of Arab and African immigrants, took to the streets, night after night, for three weeks.


The basis for proletarian internationalism is more powerful than ever.

Only revolution can put an end to the lopsided world where a rich, imperialist countries dominate and oppress poor third world countries.

Only the rule of the proletariat worldwide can put an end to the oppression of nations that gives rise to the need for immigration and overcome the national divisions among the workers.

Throughout the world, immigrants, especially immigrant proletarians, must be a powerful and driving force in this revolution.

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